James LeBrie

JAMES LaBRIE – Impermanent Resonance

James Lebrie - Impermanent ResonanceHands up all of you who have been longing your guts out for a solo album by Dream Theater’s singer. I don’t wanna sound mean here, but the fact is, I have always thought that LaBrie is the weakest link in the Dream Theater line-up and his name doesn’t show that often in the songwriting credits. Not that James is a bad singer, no, quite the opposite, but the fact is, despite his wide range, when he reaches the higher notes, he has a tendency too sound a bit annoying, but his lower register is magnificent. Still, a solo album from LaBrie isn’t exactly what I have been waiting for!

I know this isn’t the Labrie’s first solo effort. Back in 1999, he released his first solo work, Keep It To Yourself under the MullMuzzler moniker and in and then MullMuzzler 2 in 2001. There have also been two solo albums released under his own name, Elements Of Persuasion in 2005 and Static Impulse in 2010. How those albums sound, I haven’t got the slightest idea, because frankly, I haven’t heard them. Now, for a music nerd like yours truly, that is kind of embarrassing, especially when I think about the fact that I am a huge Dream Theater fan who discovered that band with their first album When Dream And Day Unite (1989), when nobody knew who they were. Normally, I would have thrown myself all over those records, but something in me hasn’t been interested at all. So why, this one then? Well, I really don’t know, but for some reason I got the idea that I really wanted to give this one a chance.

I’m really glad I did because James has recorded one helluva record here. The first time I heard the album, I really felt like a dumbass for not checking out his earlier stuff and even more so for going on about James being the weakest link in Dream Theater. When I listened to the album through my earphones it only added fuel to the fire and I guess I’m put to shame here a bit. The album opens with two killers, “Agony” and “Undertow”, hard and aggressive songs that contains both some cool growl / screams from Swedish drummer Peter Wildoer (Darkane) and some catchy melodies and great singing from LaBrie. “Slight Of Hand” combines heaviness and aggression with some brilliant catchiness, “Back On The Ground” is a phenomenal heavy ballad and then there is stuff like “I Got You” and “Holding On”, two heavy songs, but very catchy with a big pop feel that breaks mold in a very cool way. He also gives us “Lost In The Fire”, a heavy ballad with a sticky chorus that has a piano melody that makes me think of the first Linkin Park record – and I don’t mean that in a bad way, Linkin Park’s debut is a killer (no, I’m not a fan of neither nu-metal or Linkin Park). “Destined To Burn” is a brilliant and heavy hard rock song, “Say You’re Still Mine” is another ballad and it’s very similar to Dream Theater melody wise with its heavy foundation and “Amnesia” is one of my favourites here despite its modern metal vibes. But the song is quite poppy and the melody sticks.

James LaBrie’s fourth solo effort turns out to be a real nice surprise. There aren’t any bad songs on here and I’m a bit lost on why LaBrie has so few song writing credits with Dream Theater when this album shows that he’s quite capable of writing some damn fine tunes. Or is it his producer, keyboard player and co-writer Matt Guilory who writes the bulk of it? Also, his singing on this album is anything but annoying and his vocals are better than ever! The production is clean, heavy and sometimes slick, but without sounding like it’s made with airplay in the back of their minds. It’s also nice that LaBrie hasn’t made a Dream Theater record here, but songs that differs from that, although I can imagine that Dream Theater fans will probably like this – I also believe that you will appreciate this even if you are not a Dream Theater fan. The melodies can sometimes be reminiscent of Dream Theater, but this isn’t even near as proggy as LaBrie’s day job. A very good album and I guess it’s time for me to start digging into LaBrie’s back catalogue!

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Tracklist:

1. Agony
2. Undertow
3. Slight Of Hand
4. Back On The Ground
5. I Got You
6. Holding On
7. Lost In The Fire
8. Letting Go
9. Destined To Burn
10. Say You’re Still Mine
11. Amnesia
12. I Will Not Break

1. Agony
2. Undertow
3. Slight Of Hand
4. Back On The Ground
5. I Got You
6. Holding On
7. Lost In The Fire
8. Letting Go
9. Destined To Burn
10. Say You’re Still Mine
11. Amnesia
12. I Will Not Break – See more at: http://www.insideoutmusic.com/newsdetailed.aspx?IdNews=13154&IdCompany=8#sthash.HTYj8DaA.dpuf
1. Agony
2. Undertow
3. Slight Of Hand
4. Back On The Ground
5. I Got You
6. Holding On
7. Lost In The Fire
8. Letting Go
9. Destined To Burn
10. Say You’re Still Mine
11. Amnesia
12. I Will Not Break – See more at: http://www.insideoutmusic.com/newsdetailed.aspx?IdNews=13154&IdCompany=8#sthash.HTYj8DaA.dpuf
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6 comments on “JAMES LaBRIE – Impermanent Resonance

  1. Have you read the Dream Theater book, Chasing Shadows? Apparently DT agreed with you at one point and were ready to change singers. They had to confront James and tell him, “We’re not satisfied with your output and performances and we want a new singer.” They mentioned wanting a guy like Steve Hogarth from Marillion, who could get them played on radio, could write, and play instruments.

    James obviously made a re-commitment to the band and is still there, but that’s a true story.

    I did own the first Mullmuzzler (sold it years ago) and I still own one of his solo albums. I haven’t played it in years unfortunately, sometimes when you buy so much music, stuff gets buried in my collection. It’s not always a commentary on the CD, more just where my head is sometimes at (or not at).

    As for this one, your review makes me want to check it out. I’m interested.

  2. I didn’t even know there was a DT book out. But yeah, I can see how they were thinking even though I believe that Steve Hogarth would be totally wrong for a band like DT. I’m thinking more of a guy like Mike Baker (RIP) from Shadow Gallery. But now I’m glad James is still around in DT because his voice is the face of their music and on their later four or five albums, he does a really good job, I think.

    • I too am glad that James is still in DT, especially in light of the changes since then (Portnoy). LaBrie seems to be a larger part of the picture now. And I agree that he has done a good on the last few albums. I have to pick up the new one still, but I am a big fan of Mike Mangini. That man seems like a really cool person.

      • Yeah, I like Mangini too. Too bad he was so low in the mix on the last DT album. I’ll review the new DT album next, sometime next week.
        Still I feel that Portnoy is somewhat missed. Systematic Chaos and Black Clouds & Silver Linings were the best DT albums since Awake, in my opinion.

  3. Scenes From A Memory, yes, but Train Of Thought no so much. It’s ok but a bit too dark and not so varied for my taste.
    I wonder where the hell my review of A Dramatic Turn Of Events went….

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